V i v i a n  S o n g
Freelance writer
Freelance writer
Rain rain go away

Published in the Toronto Sun and Sun Media papers August, 2008.

It's rained on quite a few parades this summer.

This year has proven to be the soggiest summer on record for several parts of Ontario. Cities such as Toronto, Sarnia and Brockville have all broken rainfall records. Precipitation levels in Toronto reached a high as 193 mm fell in July.

In Quebec, freak thunderstorms descended violently on Montreal, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivieres in June, knocking out powerlines and downing trees. Wild winds clocking in at 110 km/h ripped off roofs and overturned seven trucks on the Champlain Bridge.

Saskatchewan is also set to break records this summer after a huge number of severe weather events slammed the prairie province. Last month alone, 64 major hailstorms, 13 tornadoes, four windstorms and one heavy rainfall event befell the province.

Meanwhile, a new study published this month in the journal Science warns that as the planet heats up, episodes of extreme storms and heavy rainfall will become more frequent than we're used to.

The study, Atmospheric Warming and the Amplification of Precipitation Extremes, confirms a direct link between a warmer climate and increasing incidents of powerful rainstorms.

Scientists from the University of Reading U.K. and the University of Miami analyzed 20 years of satellite pictures and found that heavy rain events increased during warm periods.

A warmer atmosphere contains larger amounts of moisture which boosts the intensity of heavy downpours, scientists explained.

Findings in the study also suggest projected rainfall patterns in current climate models may have been underestimated, as rainfall extremes were substantially larger in satellite observations than what's been predicted.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year predicted current climate zones will shift and almost half of all land climates will vanish entirely by 2100, to be replaced by the unknown.

Many regions will experience climate changes big enough to drive significant ecological transformations, says Steve Jackson, professor at the University of Wyoming, as well as ecological surprises. For example, pine forests will turn to grasslands and rainforests to savannas, he says.

Overall, the changes will be disruptive and drastic, increasing the risk of extinction for some species.

The southeastern U.S., southeast Asia, Africa, the Amazonian rainforests and mountain ranges in Africa and South America -- areas of highest biodiversity and ecological sensitivity -- are expected to be hardest hit.

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DAMAGE CAUSED BY HEAVE RAINFALL THIS YEAR

·  Toronto, Sarnia and Brockville have broken precipitation records.Windsor and Thunder Bay have both seen double their normal amount of precipation so far and set new records for precipitation.

·  Violent thunderstorms in Quebec have knocked down powerlines and trees. 110 km/h winds have ripped oY roofs and overturned trucks.

·  Saskatchewan has seen 64 hailstorms, 13 tornadoes, four windstorms and heavy rains.

·  Hailstorms are increasing in southern Alberta.

·  Farms in Cape Breton are drowning from heavy rains.



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